“Nightmare’s Fairy Tale: A Young Refugee’s Home Fronts, 1938-1948”–

Korman, Gerd. “Nightmare’s Fairy Tale: A Young Refugee’s Home Fronts”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2007.

Fleeing the Nazis

Amos Lassen

University of Wisconsin Press has been dong some exciting publishing in the field of Holocaust Studies and now we are going to have the exhibit from the national Holocaust Museum here in Little Rock, its important to make ourselves familiar with some of the literature. “Nightmare’s Fairy Tale” is the story of the Korman family who had been scattered from a Polish refugee camp but had hopes of reuniting in America. Unfortunately that did not happen. Father Korman fled to Cubs aboard the ill-fated St. Louis. Mother Korman left for the United States after sending her two sons, one of whom is the author, Gerd, to a Kindertransport.

In his book, Korman tells us of his childhood years as a refugee in Europe after the war and then as an immigrant to America. Analyzing history, he uses his own personal experience to look at the American-Jewish immigrant community and how growing up in several countries influenced both him and others. Eventually reunited with his parents, his story is one of success while others were not so lucky. His teenage years as a wanderer were the trauma that shaped his identity. Here in America, he became an American Jew anxious to embrace his new home but his accent often betrayed him. Yet he is eager to tell the story of how he was defined by history.

The book is extremely moving and the trial of a family as seen through the eyes of a twelve year old boy is heartbreaking. But he also sees the historical importance of the Holocaust and acknowledges the connections he has made by attempting to understand it.

This is not just a memoir but a story that compels you to keep reading as Korman gives his observations on memory and identity. As a personal narrative it is an important contribution to the field of Holocaust studies which is narrowing as the survivors are beginning to die off. It is not easy to read books like this as it jars us to a state of reality about man’s inhumanity to man. We MUST read these books so as to never forget the darkest period in the history of the world as painful as reading this is there is a reward in knowing that we are alive and determined not to let something like this happen again.

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